Racconti Italiani (Italian Stories)
MY ITALIAN HERITAGE
In the 1940s, I was a little boy growing up in my totally Italian neighborhood. Red Hook, Brooklyn was our entire world. The streets were always full of kids who would be outside all day and had to be home for supper. We kids would migrate from one block to another, never having to fear anything. If a bigger kid picked on you, all you had to do was yell "MOM!" and every mother on that block would come out to protect you. Usually all it took was any one yelling "Leave that kid alone, you bully!"
We kids in turn would assist the old ladies carry their grocery bags. Every old lady was our Nonna -"Grandma". Sometimes a Nonna would give us a penny and we would head for the candy store to feast on a bag of candy. Those days, a penny went a long way.
If we had to cross a major street with trolley cars, we would stand on the comer and soon an adult would take your hand and cross you.
These were the days before supermarkets. Our Italian community was always full of odors coming from the one item stores, whether it was the coffee store, the bakery, the deli or any Italian food store, the aromas were to die for. We had no restaurants in our little Italy, because it was considered an offense against any Italian women. It was said the only people who eat in restaurants are people who wives don’t know how to cook. Now, that was the biggest insult!
When I count my blessings, I thank God, I was a little kid in Red Hook, Brooklyn. It was a time and era we will never see again.
Submitted by : Vinny Russo